“I appeal to you, brothers, by the name of our Lord Jesus Christ, that all of you agree, and that there be no divisions among you, but that you be united in the same mind and the same judgment. For it has been reported to me by Chloe’s people that there is quarreling among you, my brothers. What I mean is that each one of you says, ‘I follow Paul,’ or ‘I follow Apollos,’ or ‘I follow Cephas,’ or ‘I follow Christ.’ Is Christ divided? Was Paul crucified for you? Or were you baptized in the name of Paul?.. For Christ did not send me to baptize but to preach the gospel, and not with words of eloquent wisdom, lest the cross of Christ be emptied of its power… [We preach] Christ the power of God and the wisdom of God… You are in Christ Jesus, who became to us wisdom from God, righteousness and sanctification and redemption.” “Contend, O Lord, with those who contend with me.” “If possible, so far as it depends on you, live peaceably with all. Beloved, never avenge yourselves.” 1 Corinthians 1:10-13,17,24,30; Psalm 35:1; Romans 12:18-19
I watched a heavy, dark band of cloud hover above the horizon this morning, portending only dreary tumult. Within minutes, as the sun pushed its way up, the clouds broke apart in glorious splendor. The power of light transforms in a most marvelous way.
Paul’s passion was the gospel, and he drove it right to the heart of division and disunity. If the gospel brings truth to light, and offers freedom, reconciliation, and peace, then the dark muddle of distortion, dissension, argument, comparing, quarreling, is exactly where it is needed. The immorality, religious diversity, and corruption of the Corinthian culture needled at this church, much as our self-laden culture seeps with accusation and hurt feelings and turmoil into our congregations and families today. Paul knew the solution to their selfishness and bickering, the only way to unity, was through the power of the cross.
When we let “I” take the throne, we can become short-sighted and persnickety. When we then bump against anyone or any decision that disagrees with my path or threatens my rights, we turn ornery and irascible. Our self-interest and stubborn determination pollute harmony with an ugly dissonance that destroys relationships and spiritual fruitfulness. Settling for this is like being content to take up residence in the wide storm cloud with a vista of only damp darkness. But when we look above, and allow the light of the gospel to burn its hot healing into our hearts (however much it may sting), to break up our prejudices, dissolve our touchiness, and reshape our thinking, we can release our wills to give way to the wise working of the Father.
In what instances am I so driven by selfish ambition that I disregard a sister or brother in Christ? Where am I digging in my heels and refusing to consider others as more important than myself, or their perspective as valid? How am I contributing to disunity, and what need I change to promote the unity God desires? (Philippians 2:2-4)
Lord, help me lay down my arms to give way to Your glorious, transformative gospel of peace.